Just because you keep hearing the same weight-loss advice over and over for years doesn’t mean it’s true. Here are a few “tips” that get it all — or mostly — wrong.
Myth No. 1: “Healthy” oil all the way!
Coconut, flax, avocado and olive oils are considered “healthy” fats, but they are still fats. That olive oil you generously splash on your salad, though high in heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids, has about 477 calories and 54 grams of fat per 4 tablespoons. So if you’re wondering why your scale won’t budge, take a closer look at how much oil you’re really consuming. Use slightly less olive oil than called for in recipes when sautéing vegetables, and add broth as necessary to keep veggies from sticking. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat fish with olive oil, or try a non-aerosol pump to lightly glaze salad with oil.
Myth No. 2: Snack your way thin.
If you’re eating enough nutrient-rich, whole food, you don’t need more than one snack each day. If you’re Serena Williams, that’s a different story, but the average American doesn’t require the extra calories that come with snacks. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 10 percent of your overall calories for snacks, and select those that add nutrients to your overall diet. So, if you’re eating an 1,800 calorie diet, devote 180 of those calories to snacks. Eating every four hours is smart, since that naturally allows for one snack. For example, if you eat breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch will be at noon. A snack can follow at 4 p.m., and dinner at 8 p.m. makes sense.
Myth No. 3: Go gluten-free.
Often, gluten-free diets emphasize products made with refined grains that are not enriched with vitamins and minerals; they can be high in fat and low in fiber, iron, folate, B vitamins, calcium and phosphorous. Granted, including gluten-free grains in your diet (like quinoa, millet and brown rice) can help you lose weight, but the fact remains that consumers seeking to lose weight or improve the quality of their health may actually find it more difficult on a gluten-free regimen.
Myth No. 4: Drink up to slim down.
Drinking a big glass of water before dinner won’t make you eat less. It will just bloat you more. Liquid doesn’t trigger satiety the same way food does; hunger and thirst mechanisms are different. (This is why liquid diets don’t work.) What will keep you full are food-beverage combinations that are high in fiber. Think white bean and escarole soup with hearty bread, or a broth-based soup with a sandwich for lunch.
Myth No. 5: Jerky is junk.
According to the International Food Information Council, 57 percent of Americans are trying to increase the protein in their diets. So, it’s no surprise they’re turning to protein bars, shakes and supplements to get more of the macronutrient into their diet. Years ago, jerky was loaded with MSG and additives, but today the game has changed. Manufacturers are making jerky with antibiotic and hormone-free beef, turkey and pork; herbs; fruit; and even cabernet. The result is a protein-rich, additive-free snack that’s tender and lower in sodium than salty packaged snacks. Some jerky brands are even organic.